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Is This Land Your Land?
YCteen staff
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Each summer, YCteen and its sister publication Represent enlist a group of young people to participate in a themed writing workshop. Past years have covered themes ranging from gender to technology. This summer, our teen writers, who come from diverse economic, cultural, and racial backgrounds, explored what it means to be American. Their stories are found in these pages. Here, we also asked them to submit an image that they felt symbolized what being American means to them.


Uniting Around
Mariano Rivera

Emily Xu

Every time I visit Yankee Stadium, it fills me with pride to be in a place where people are all passionate and united around the same team and sport. This photo is from a recent game I attended when they brought Mariano Rivera, a legendary Yankee closer, onto the field. He is a Panamanian-American who struggles with English, yet he is respected by baseball fans for his sportsmanship and great talent. Seeing the stadium, made up of a diverse group of fans, burst with thunderous applause and appreciation made me feel proud and patriotic.


Diverse, Vibrant Identities

Winnie Kong

Taken at the New York City Pride March, this photograph symbolizes the celebration of diversity in America. During Pride Week, the LGBTQ community expresses their vibrant, genuine identities. For those who are closeted, the march is a display of empowerment that helps give them the courage to come out. The unity between those who identify as queer and their allies helps educate those who are less open-minded. Above all, the Pride March is about faith and acceptance—important American ideals.


A Monument to Celebrate

Gabrielle Pascal

A group of diverse people from different locations gather at the Washington Monument to celebrate the country that they all share together. There isn’t anyone to tear them away from the monument or tell them they shouldn’t be there. To me, the foundation of America is diversity and immigration. Whether one was born here or arrived from a different country, anyone who wishes to make a better life for themselves deserves to be here.


Hand in Hand

Toyloy Brown III

This image symbolizes equality among different races. Today many of our country’s issues are centered around race. I think if black and white people were on equal playing fields, most of our country’s problems would be gone. This should be a goal we all strive for.


Promoting Pride

Atl Castro

This was a photo of a poster put up in a subway car a day before the New York City Pride March. It spoke to me about what it means to be an American because it shows that New Yorkers are accepting of gay people.

It shows that a group of people who are sometimes ostracized in other parts of the country are welcomed here and they can feel like true Americans.


A Good Hard Look

Ria Parker

A magnifying glass is an instrument that makes other objects appear larger. I believe that if you live in America you should look at it closely and with a critical eye, question everything, and fight for equality everywhere for people of different races, classes, genders, ethnicities, and abilities.


Empty Promises

By Abigail Johnson

America is like a bag of chips. Your heart attaches to it because you crave it.

You think America is full of justice and freedom just like you think that bag is full of chips, but when you open it you realize that it’s mostly air. It’s a bag of empty promises, a false advertisement.

But sadly, we keep thinking we’ll get what this country is known for, and we go through the cycle of disappointment. We want to believe that it is possible to get a full bag and that it is possible to be you—to live freely and with equal opportunity no matter your race, religion, gender, age, or sexual orientation. So we take another step to a different store, hoping this one won’t be the same as the last. It’s only faith that keeps us going each day.


Individual Water Droplets

Nina Roberts

This picture shows the view from my apartment building, looking across the East River toward the edge of Queens, with a bit of the United Nations building caught in the shot. This photo makes me think of all the people in this city from different countries and cultures as individual water droplets in a river. With just one drop, a boat could never float. But we are so strong when we are united.

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(NYC-2017-09-12)

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